When a cow on the highway caused a harrowing wreck that left a semi-truck driver with wide-ranging physical injuries and severe post-traumatic syndrome disorder (PTSD), the Law Office of Matthew A. Lathrop went the extra mile to get the client the justice and damages he deserved. Keep reading to find out what it took to secure fair compensation in this unique and complex crash case.

The Accident

Early one fall morning, our client, a 50-year-old semi-truck driver for a local company, was making deliveries on his regular retail route, which included one stop six hours to the west, in “rancher country.”  Remote, desolate, and without lights, this portion of the interstate is extremely dark at 3 a.m., making visibility difficult. Driving west on the interstate, our client crested a hill to see a large, black cow standing in the road. Before he had time to try any evasive action, he struck the animal, sending it flying up over the truck cab, and the entire truck veered into a ditch, where it flipped over, landing driver-side-down. 

As our client lay trapped in the truck cab, with his legs pinned by the collapsing dashboard and unable to reach his radio, he began smelling diesel fuel. Listening to the refrigerated trailer clicking on and off as it tried to restart, he knew that if a single spark hit the fuel, it would ignite, burning him alive inside the cab. Minutes felt like hours, but eventually, he heard a semi-truck pass by and lay on its horn—a signal letting him know that the trucker had called 911 and that help was on the way.

The Injuries

After the local volunteer fire department freed our client from the truck, he was taken to a regional hospital before being transported to a trauma center by ambulance. In addition to significant shoulder, leg, and hip injuries, the accident caused severe PTSD that often left the truck driver feeling overcome by overwhelming panic. Though he briefly tried to return to work, his PTSD symptoms made it impossible to resume his employment.

Committed to ensuring that the client felt comfortable and supported throughout the legal process, Matt’s executive assistant, Jheri, would spend up to an hour at a time on the phone with him when he would call the office, providing a listening ear and reassurance that our team had everything under control.

The Investigation

Matt literally went the extra mile in this case, driving five to six hours from his office in Omaha multiple times to investigate the case and take key witness statements. He conducted a thorough investigation into the crash, hiring an expert to identify the cow’s owner and find out how it had escaped their control. The highway patrol had taken the carcass to a rendering plant, which required our team to consult numerous branding offices, sheriff's deputies, and others throughout the county to locate the owner and serve him with a lawsuit.

We inspected the owner’s fencing and found multiple points where the wire was either down or loose enough to allow a fully grown cow to step through it. Denying liability, the defense claimed that their animal couldn’t have escaped their fence in an area almost ½ a mile from the ultimate location of the collision.

Our expert, a former rodeo champion and cattleman with 65 years of experience owning and running cattle operations, determined that, with the late fall ground overgrazed, the cow had gotten out to look for better food. After wandering around, getting lost, and becoming cold, it had gone to stand on the warm asphalt.

The Resolution

Confirming that the owner’s fencing was faulty, rather than the state-owned highway fencing, which was intact, Matt made a demand on the cattle owner. Negotiations resulted in a confidential settlement the client was very happy with. Matt also worked hard to make sure the truck driver would be able to continue to get the care he needs.

More to Come 

Working to recover as much compensation for the client as possible, Matt is also representing him in a workers’ comp claim. We’ll update this page with our results. Stay tuned!


Matthew (Matt) Lathrop
Experienced injury lawyer serving accident victims in Nebraska and Omaha. Expert in focus group trial prep.